A police officer convicted of stealing more than 150 guns over a period of two years from a Nonthaburi police station has been sentenced to 270 years in jail but will serve the maximum of 50 years, authorities said on Thursday.
The Criminal Court for Corruption and Misconduct Cases Region 1 handed down the sentence to Chaowalit Phumkhachorn, a former crime suppression officer attached to the Pak Kret station, on March 21, said Kosolwat Inthujanyong, a deputy spokesman for the Office of the Attorney-General (OAG).
The former senior sergeant-major was sentenced to life imprisonment for committing thefts while serving as a state official; five years for each of 28 counts of possession of firearms; and six life terms for offences related to the firearms trade.
Taking into account the defendant’s confession, the court reduced the total sentence to 270 years, but the maximum jail term by law is 50 years.
The court also ordered him to return all the stolen guns or pay 1.34 million baht in compensation to authorities, said Mr Kosolwat.
The prosecution said that over a two-year period, Chaowalit falsified documents to obtain the guns, many of which had been signed out from his own station. He sold 47 of them to outsiders and pawned another 115.
He subsequently fled and was later arrested in Nong Khai on Oct 20 last year. Some of the stolen guns were recovered following searches of premises in Bangkok and Nonthaburi. Others were returned by people who feared legal action for possession of stolen weapons.
The discovery that large numbers of guns had gone missing from the offender’s police station without anyone apparently noticing prompted calls for more rigorous and regular checks of police weapons storage facilities.